Have you ever had the thought that becoming a Christian would solve all of your problems, that life would be like floating on a cloud? After all, since you became a child of the Most High God, nothing would be able to cause you hurt or harm or grief, right? Certainly none of your children would ever stray from the Lord because you had been diligent to instruct them in the ways of the Lord. Never would you have to be concerned that your spouse would be unfaithful to you. You could not imagine facing the possibility of financial ruin. It would be unthinkable that someone you dearly loved would die after enduring great suffering caused by a disease. Even beyond comprehension would be the thought that one of your children would die an early death from a drug overdose, suicide, or even murder.
Every circumstance I just mentioned has touched my life personally or someone’s very close to me—and all since I became a Christian! It’s very easy to become overwhelmed by the crushing contradictions in our lives. We find ourselves questioning God’s wisdom or His power or even His love.
So, how do we deal with the complexity of living life and enjoying it? First, let’s remember why we’re even here. The purpose of God creating a place for mankind and then forming man in His own image to live there was to fulfill God’s longing to have fellowship. We all know the account of God’s interaction with Adam and Eve in the Garden and how that was messed up when they sold out for some fruit!
However, continuing to read through the Old Testament, we learn about God and His great love for people, and that He chose to intimately interact with mankind. We learn that God had man build physical places for His habitation, and we read of the Spirit of God “resting” on people. All accounts were preparing us to receive Jesus, God becoming flesh to redeem mankind. Moving into the New Testament we learn that after Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection (all according to Scripture), He promised to send the Holy Spirit to live “within” the Believer (John 14:15-17). My, what a difference! No longer would we have to wait until the preacher, teacher, or prophet came to town to hear what God had to say. What a personal God we have!
As have many of you, at a specific point in time, I made the decision to receive Jesus into my life. I was almost 22 years old, married, and had one child who was not yet a year old. My choice as to how to deal with life did not end just because I had gotten saved. I have had to continually choose to allow Jesus to be a part of my life. Christianity is a lifestyle, not a one-time decision.
I have no problem admitting that I don’t always have an answer as to why hard things happen in my life. There are times that I do recognize some things are direct consequences to poor decisions I’ve made. (In other words, I’m directly responsibility for making a mess!) For those times, my part is to repent and allow God to bring good out of a bad situation. As for other times, I just don’t have any understanding. My position then is to continue to trust God. I have a friend who said that if I should learn that she died from cancer, also know that she died still believing that God heals.
Reading II Corinthians 1:20-22, we are told that God’s promises are yes in Christ and that He makes us stand firm in Christ. He anoints us, seals us, and guarantees what is to come. I have discovered that a real glitch in my comprehension of life is that I lack the capacity of seeing the world from God’s vantage point of timelessness. Bound in time, we live our lives focused on what is happening to us right now, in the moment. However, as we read account after account in Scripture of God relating to people, we realize that He often operates on an entirely different plane than ours.
A related thought, which I’ll call “too close to life”, came to mind as I watched a scene in the movie Soul Surfer. The youth leader was teaching her class, put a picture on the screen, and then asked the kids what they saw. Answers varied, one of which was a brain, but the correct answer was that it was a walnut. The purpose was to demonstrate that if we’re too close to something, it can look like something else.
We should keep this in mind during times of experiencing hurt, discouragement, unhappiness, rejection, lonesomeness, grief, or any negative emotion. It’s not that we’ll never have to face these feelings, but if we stay “in the moment” and “too close”, we are in danger of being given the opportunity to become bound to it and reap the outcome. From God’s point of view, the future has already been determined. What God wants for us has already been accomplished; the end is settled. What remains is for each of us to live out our lives believing it. I’m finally beginning to understand that I have an important role in how content I am in living this life. Encouragement and support from others, especially members of the Body of Christ, is essential to our spiritual maturity, but not intended to replace our personal responsibility of striving to allow God to flow through our lives to accomplish His will.
Spending MUCH time with God allows us to be lifted out of these limitations. Do whatever it takes to keep your attention and thoughts toward Him. Play music while in your house and car that causes you to worship. Print Scripture on cards and post them about your home. Do whatever you can to saturate your soul and spirit with Him. I’ve discovered that I enjoy reading the Bible more than ever before by reading lengthy passages of Scripture at a time, sometimes an entire Book at a sitting. I recommend going beyond just the “daily Bible reading”. Then, take time to meditate on what you have read. Give God a chance to talk to you about it. I know that we all live busy, busy lives, but I’ve discovered that I cannot afford to NOT allow time for fellowship with Him through His Word and prayer. Allowing God’s Word to permeate your thoughts and heart produces faith. Faith is a Christian’s “bread and butter”. Faith gives us “sticking power”. We know that faith pleases God and we’re also instructed to live by faith.
Also, if I’ve learned anything in my 79 years, it is to continually be thankful. It is far too easy to find something to complain about, but in reality we have so, so much to give thanks for. I challenge you to try something: if you find that a murmuring, complaining statement has slipped through your lips, immediately override it with one of thanksgiving. I truly believe it will change your life.
I have been privileged to go to several third world countries. Although I was there for several months, almost immediately my life changed drastically. I have trouble putting into words the dedication of the Christians there. They live to share Jesus, period. It’s not about them. They didn’t become Christians for “the perks”. They were lost. Destination: Hell. Receiving Jesus gave them life. They believe their eternity started the moment they got saved. One day, they will simply change addresses from 100 Earth Circle to #1 Street of Gold! What could possibly get them down? They already live in extreme poverty, seriously unhealthy conditions, lack fresh water to drink, and limited medical treatment. Their children die when they are still children. They walk miles to labor in a field all day just to eat, live in very crowded housing, and the needs go on. These precious Believers have given me a completely different perspective on what this life is all about. The bottom line is that it’s NOT all about ME, but about the One Who gave me life.
In answering the title of this writing “Have We Been Duped?”: ABSOLUTELY NOT! God’s plan has always been in my best interest. The very fact that Jesus paid a debt I could not pay is plenty for me, and the benefits are out of this world! God is love, life, goodness, kindness, mercy, authority, grace, health, truth, prosperity, power, justice, and much more. My prayer is that I will live my life not relying upon my reasoning, but with faith in Him.